August 13, 2016

More Delays Coming for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program? (Source: Parabolic Arc)
@SciGuySpace Eric Berger says a crewed test flight of either SpaceX’s Dragon or Boeing’s CST-100 would come sometime by the end of 2018. That would push back the first commercial mission into 2019. The current schedules, which the space agency presented to the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) show first crewed flights for Boeing in February 2018 and SpaceX in August 2017. Click here. (8/12)

Case for Proposed UK Argyll Spaceport Taken to Next Level (Source: Press & Journal)
The case for siting the UK’s first Spaceport in Argyll is being taken to the Scottish and UK Governments by the local authority. The former Machrihanish Airbase near Campbeltown could help to attract some of the 100,000 jobs expected to be created by the space industry by 2030. (8/12)

House Panel Irked by Air Force Request for ORS-6 Launch Funds (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force plans to launch a weather demonstration satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next year, but has drawn the ire of a key House subcommittee in trying to ensure funding for the launch was available. The launch is part of a previously undisclosed contract with Spaceflight Industries, which arranges rideshare launches. USAF Secretary Deborah James asked Congress to lift restrictions on funding for the Air Force’s next-generation weather satellite program, known as the Weather Satellite Follow-on.

James said if the Air Force did not have access to the $21 million by July 15, “the current contractual rideshare commitment will be placed at risk.” But leaders from the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee responded in a July 18 letter that they would release just $3.3 million, an amount they determined, in consultation with the Air Force, that would allow the launch to continue. They also noted that an electronic copy of James’ July 1 letter wasn’t sent until July 8.

The Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space office has been tasked with working on a small weather satellite, known as COVWR or ORS-6, that hopes to prove out smaller microwave technology for creating weather data on ocean surface winds and tropical cyclone intensity. The COWVR satellite is intended to provide ocean-wind data. (8/12)

Future Technology Innovations On The Horizon (Source: Aviation Week)
With more than 100 years of dramatic technology advances behind it, what lies ahead for the aerospace industry— at least in the next 20-40 years? As its second century opens, Aviation Week & Space Technology identifies some of the more promising aerospace technologies already taking shape. Click here. (7/29)

Sierra Nevada Partners with Aerojet Rocketdyne for Deep Space Hab Prototype (Source: Colorado Space News)
Sierra Nevada Corp. has partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne to conduct an architectural design study for a habitation system that would enable NASA astronauts to live for long durations beyond low-Earth orbit. The partnership, under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) will allow SNC and its partners to use their experience to design a complete habitat system architecture and build a full-scale prototype for testing and evaluation. (8/12)

SpaceX’s Rate of Launch Set to Accelerate With Launch of JCSAT-16 (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With the year more than half over, SpaceX is ramping up launch operations at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport’s Launch Complex 40. Not one but two launches are planned between now and Sep. 3. While not as exciting as a mission to the International Space Station, these commercial flights are helping SpaceX demonstrate it can rapidly send payloads into orbit.

SpaceX’s launch operations are also set to expand to Launch Complex 39A in 2017 and the under-construction Boca Chica launch complex in Texas sometime in 2018. And the company was looking to see the first flight of the giant Falcon Heavy occur at LC-39A late this year. However, that has been pushed to early 2017. (8/12)

Blue Origin's Sweet Spot: An Untapped Suborbital Market for Private Spaceflight (Source:
With multiple flights of its New Shepard vehicle under its belt, Blue Origin is appraising the research market for scientific and technological experiments that can be lofted to suborbital space. Blue Origin is run by billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, who has adopted the motto "Gradatim Ferociter" — Latin for "step by step, ferociously" — for the Washington-based company.

And those words are proving to be apt: Blue Origin's reusable New Shepard rocket system has flown to suborbital space five times to date, with the first liftoff coming in April 2015 and the latest occurring this past June. A central objective of the company is creating a commercial suborbital space tourism vehicle for paying customers. But Blue Origin also plans to make money by taking science experiments into the final frontier. Click here. (8/12)

Dark Matter Candidate Particles are a No-Show in Hitomi Data (Source: Science News)
Before the demise of Japan’s latest X-ray satellite, Hitomi, the probe might have put to rest speculation about radiation from dark matter in a cache of galaxies. In 2014 astronomers reported that several galaxy clusters appeared to inexplicably produce X-ray photons with energies of about 3.5 kiloelectron volts. The researchers suggested that the radiation could be coming from the decay of sterile neutrinos — hypothetical particles that are one candidate for the elusive dark matter that is thought to bind galaxies and clusters together. (8/12)

New Video Will Actually Help You Understand What Gravitational Waves Are (Source: Mashable)
In the distant reaches of the cosmos, two black holes collide and merge in a violent crash. We can't see it or feel it, but the shock of that collision sends ripples propagating far and wide through the fabric of space and time. Those distortions, known as gravitational waves, affect every molecule they come across — warping their size by a fraction of a proton. However, those changes are only detectable by some of the most highly calibrated and sensitive tools ever built by humans. Click here. (8/12)

NASA Q&A on Commercial Crew Program (Source: Parabolic Arc)
There are few days that are the same for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program astronauts as they train for flight tests aboard the next generation of human-rated spacecraft, astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams told an audience at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.

“One of the things I like about being an astronaut is that you’re always doing different things,” Boe said. “I don’t think I have a day or week that’s been the same since we started this.” Williams said the constant changes involved in training are similar to what happens during a space mission, so the daily differences are valuable for the crews. Click here. (8/13)

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